Network now represents more than 30 per cent of Australia’s population
South Australia’s City of Playford has joined the national Welcoming Cities network, making it the 50th local Council to sign on.
As COVID-19 puts pressure on communities, this growing group is leveraging multiculturalism and migration to keep everyone together.
Welcoming Cities is an initiative of Welcoming Australia and was founded by the Scanlon Foundation.
Local Councils that join the Welcoming Cities network share resources and experience, all aimed at making every resident feel at home, and unlocking the proven benefits to economic development and social cohesion that come from fostering a truly inclusive community.
CEO of Welcoming Australia, Aleem Ali, says the 50-member milestone, and the momentum it demonstrates, is an exciting show of support, particularly right now.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of strong relationships and communication with multicultural communities, and many local councils are at the forefront of this work,” Mr. Ali says
“We’ve been hosting weekly meetings with our members to share learnings, discuss ideas, and identify solutions.”
“The Welcoming Cities network will be particularly important as we seek to recover from COVID-19 and it’s important to remember that migrants make a significant contribution to Australia’s economy and the vibrancy of community life.”
Mayor of the City of Playford, Councilor Glenn Docherty, is excited to join the network.
“Playford is a vibrant and growing community,” says Mayor Docherty.
“We’re excited to be part of an initiative that will support us to continue to be a place where people of all backgrounds can find a sense of belonging and participate in all aspects of community life.”
Playford joins member cities from across Australia, including Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, and regional councils including Warrnambool City Council (Victoria) and Balonne Shire Council (Queensland).
The network is helping identify many opportunities, particularly for regional councils struggling with long term issues of population and economic decline.
Balonne Shire Council, for example, has been working with Welcoming Cities, through the support of the Queensland Government, to develop a Multicultural Migration and Settlement Strategy.
Balonne Mayor Samantha O’Toole says since 2011 more than 500 people have left the shire since 2011 and they’re actively working with the community to address this challenge.
“Our community already has many people from different cultures and places, and we invite everyone to consider what role they could play in this project that will enrich the social fabric of our region and build a better future for our place.”
Professor Sev Ozdowski AM, Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council and the Welcoming Cities Advisory Committee, noted the important role that migration can play in reinvigorating towns in regional and rural areas.
“Getting the settlement context right – providing services and infrastructure as well as creating opportunities for employment, family and social connections – will lead to successful outcomes,” Professor Ozdowski says.
“It’s important to support community leaders who recognise the value of migration both in the fabric of our society and in the potential for a positive future.”
Image (L to R): Cr Akram Arifi, Mayor Glenn Docherty, Sam Green (CEO), Cr David Kerrison.